Time To Learn Lessons
16 December 1971 is the darkest day in the Muslim world but especially for Pakistan when the eastern wing of Pakistan was dismembered and Bangladesh appeared on the world map. Apart from losing its eastern wing, Pakistan had to witness a great surrender of a great fighting army whose competence remains unchallenged.
The emergence of Bangladesh did not happen due to unfortunate events of the 1970 elections but seeds were soon since the creation of Pakistan. Political analysts still looking for the real causes of this great tragedy. Some term it was a political failure some attributed it to a military ruler. But some intellectuals feel it was an international conspiracy against Pakistan but some term it a military defeat.
A number of books have been written on the loss of the eastern wing but due to personal interpretations, writers have failed to give the correct picture. Although Hamood Ur Rahman Commission was set up it also failed to pinpoint the persons responsible for this debacle. It mostly reflected failure on the part of certain functionaries. The report was never made public until its extracts appeared in Indian newspapers.
The fact remains Bengali Muslims gave a lot of sacrifices in the creation of Pakistan just as four other provinces did. Bengali Muslims were very happy that soon their dark days will be over and will get rid of Hindu domination because at the time of independence 80% economy was in their hands and 85% of the rural and urban property was in their occupation, in schools and colleges 95% staff was Hindus. Even after achieving independence, one could see photographs of Mahatma Gandhi Jawaharlal Lal Nehru in most of the offices instead of the Father of the nation Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
There was an immediate need to undo the Hindu influence and create an atmosphere of brotherhood instead East Pakistan was neglected. The first cabinet headed by Liaqat Ali Khan had just 3 ministers from East Pakistan against 13 from West Pakistan and there was one state minister against 8 from West Pakistan.
This state continued until Gen Yahya came into power he had 5 ministers from East Pakistan and 4 ministers from West Pakistan. This was the beginning of mistrust. Another factor that added fuel was a statement of Quaid e Azam during his visit to Dacca in 1948 where he made a public statement that the official language of Pakistan will be Urdu and only Urdu.
Bengalis reacted and there were huge demonstrations and paved way for language movement and aggravated the situation students were fired and some got killed. Bengali Muslims with the majority were not happy and it was fully exploited by Hindus who were otherwise unhappy over the creation of Pakistan and were slowly poisoning the minds of the local population. In fact, they were looking for an opportunity to attack East Pakistan.
East Pakistan had only one division army against 7 Divisions in West Pakistan, and there was strange logic for this disparity that the defence of East Pakistan lies in West Pakistan. How can you defend an area that is separated by 1000 miles with no land route? The civil bureaucracy was mostly from West Pakistan. We also did not treat well the Prime Minister from East Pakistan that included Khawaja Shahab Uddin and Huseyin Shaheed Suharwardy and Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan Speaker of the national assembly.
Let us analyze where we went wrong that resulted in losing half of the country. The above points resulted in annoying Bengalis and no effort was made to address their issues. Amid all these negative points Gen Yahya Khan announced elections in 1970 and issued LFO, Shaikh Mujib Rahman announced his famous six points that ultimately paved way for the independence of Bangladesh. Unfortunately while framing the Legal Framework Order proper homework was not done except for fixing 313 seats for the national assembly.
Out of these 169 were marked for East Pakistan with 7 reserved women seats and the remaining 144 for West Pakistan. Shaikh Mujib party Awami League contested 162 seats and captured 160 seats but none from West Pakistan, while the PPP got 138 seats out of 138 seats in West Pakistan and none from East Pakistan.
This proved that AL was the single largest party that could form the government. This was left to the elected members to pick up the prime minister. It is fact that Gen Yahya Khan said on 14 Jan 1971 that Shaikh Mujib is the future prime minister of Pakistan.
After reaching West Pakistan from Dacca he called for the national assembly to meet on 3 Feb 1971 and later on changed under pressure from Bhutto to 25 March 1971 gave the signal to Shaikh Mujibur Rahman that Gen Yahya was not in favour of handing over power to Shaikh Mujib so on 25 March Shaikh Mujib declared Bangladesh as an independent state. That was the end of Pakistan. Gen Yahya thought he would be able to control the situation with the help of a crackdown by the army.
He failed to comprehend that it was not possible to maintain communication between the two wings. Secondly, no army in the world can fight its own people. The moment the army crackdown started Bhutto remarked “Pakistan has been saved”. Shaikh Mujib was arrested and shifted to West Pakistan.
The question arises if 6 points of Shaikh Mujib were against the unity of Pakistan, why Shaikh Mujib was allowed to contest the elections? If we carefully examine 6 points it would reveal that these were mainly to get maximum autonomy for the province except for defence and finance which could have been negotiated, but General Yahya succumbed to Bhutto’s pressure who had only 81 seats and 5 women’s seats all from West Pakistan as against Shaikh Mujeeb’s 160 seats and 7 women”s seats all from East Pakistan. The result was being changed through bullets that proved disastrous.
An army that had just defeated the Indian army in 1965 in a short period of 6 years had to surrender before the Indian army in the most undignified manner. Indian PM had vowed to take revenge as such they started their preparations and we kept realizing that we were pitched against a cunning enemy.
Before the actual start of the war, India signed 25 years defence pact with Russia that also escaped our eyes, whereas it should have been taken as an advance warning about events to follow. We, as usual, relied on US 7 fleet and were happy as soon as it will arrive war will turn in our favour but it remained in the sea to watch our destruction and dismemberment.
In fact, it came to carry US citizens from East Pakistan Period between 26th March and 16 December was the bloodiest period of our history lacs of people were slaughtered so much so that even children were brutally murdered, and pregnant women were bayoneted. Horrible accounts of brutalities by Mukhti Bahani(Liberation Army) have appeared in international media.
In fact, Muslims were killing their own sisters and brothers. The worst sufferers were Bihari who sided with the Pakistan Army and was butchered badly. Unfortunately, still over one million are languishing in the camps and waiting for Messiah to bring them to Pakistan as they refused to be Bangladeshi citizens and still call themselves Pakistani.
Let this be stated categorically that Pakistan Army and para-military forces fought bravely under the most difficult conditions in the history of warfare in defending their homeland. Late FM Manekshaw Indian C-in-C in an interview acknowledged that Pakistan fought bravely but they had no chance as they were in the ratio of 1:50. They were fighting on all the fronts, left right centre and at the back own forces fighting on their behalf. There was no replenishment of food water, manpower, or ammunition.
Soldiers and officers were eating tree leaves and drinking dirty water. They fought bravely when everyone was their enemy and separated by 1000 miles away from their base without air, road or sea link. Let us on this day pay homage to all those who sacrificed their lives for their homeland. If there were failures it was leadership failures.
Internationally we were also isolated except for China which held a recognition of Bangladesh, but within 10 months 70 countries accorded recognition to Bangladesh including USA and Russia. Except for Iraq, the Muslim countries of the middle east and Africa also held recognition. However, in Feb 1974 when Pakistan accorded recognition to Bangladesh it followed the suit and remained also recognized Bangladesh and was later admitted to the UN.
The appearance of Bangladesh on the world map reminds us that if the will of the people is changed from the ballot to bullets the results can be disastrous. This is what is happening now the most popular party is being cornered and removed during the hours of darkness, and the result is a country has almost defaulted. Let us all wake up to the ground realities and act in a manner that should bring consensus and harmony and matters be resolved through negotiations instead of using foul means.
When we can talk to our enemy why can’t we talk to our own people? 18th amendment instead of bringing provinces closer has assumed a sort of independence and doesn’t bother about the centre. Since the emergence of Pakistan as an independent state it is still struggling for a democratic order and a durable political system and in the bargain, we lost half the country.
Pakistan’s judiciaries’ rights from 1953 to justice Munir and onwards have been mostly supporting illegalities under the law of necessity. Take the case of India their politicians are also corrupt but reasonably fair elections are held. The institution of democracy is the very strong army that has never interfered, in Pakistan army is invited by Pakistani politicians. Rule of law is practically practiced.
The higher judiciary is honest and independent and holds the law. There is no concept of accountability, corrupt enjoy VIP status only the poor are punished. The progress of the country is not measured by the quantum of high-rise buildings, palatial houses, and expensive limousines instead its measure lies in political stability, internal law and order, living conditions of the masses and application of the Rule of Law. To overcome the above crisis following five things are needed.
Establishment of the Rule of Law, Zero tolerance against corruption, Independent judiciary, Independent Election Commission and interference-free democracy.
However, for Pakistan to progress, dynastic politics have to be buried deep and leadership must be from grass root levels. We had enough experimentation to let this come to an end and let the will of the people prevail. Let us its time for a change learn from our own history.
Time To Learn Lessons We must change our mindset for that media has to be neutral not the way media is operating at this time. They are nobody to pass judgements on anybody their job is just to inform the people as to what is happening in the country and raise issues concerning the people of Pakistan and not the character assassinations of leaders.